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Oswald R. Holocaust testimony (HVT-1834) interviewed by Dina Choshen and Raphael Rozner

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-1834

Videotape testimony of Oswald R., who was born in a Polish village near Żywiec in 1922, the older of two brothers. He recalls learning German; attending a local school; cordial relations with non-Jews; being sent to live with an aunt in Bielsko-Biała to attend a better school; graduating from high school; moving with his family to Żywiec; participating in Akiba; fleeing toward Kraków during the German invasion; his parents returning home (he never saw them again), but sending him and his brother away from German-occupied areas; finding an Akiba group in Lʹviv; his assignment smuggling others to Lithuania with the goal of emigration to Palestine; arrest by the Soviet NKVD; release; traveling to Vilnius; finding an Akiba unit; assistance from the Joint; working as a shoemaker; his brother's emigration to Palestine; Soviet occupation; German invasion; fleeing with Soviet soldiers; returning to Vilnius; arrest; forced labor in a shoe factory; escaping; removing his star; encountering a German soldier who discussed participating in a mass killing of Jews; staying with a Polish farmer for two months; the farmer sending him to hide with relatives in a forest village; bringing food to friends in a nearby labor camp; traveling to the Naliboki Forest; posing as a non-Jew; living briefly in Turėts, working as a school janitor; witnessing the distribution of clothing taken from Jews killed in a mass shooting; translating for the locals when Germans came; and the head of the local police taking him to Mir as a translator.
Mr. R. recounts assignment to the mayor and police; receiving an SS uniform and guns; communicating with Jews and the Judenrat in the ghetto; witnessing shootings of Jews in several locations, and of Soviets in Bol'shiye Zhukhovichi; learning the remaining Jews in Mir were to be killed; advising them to escape; smuggling weapons to them; providing false information to the Germans so they would leave Mir on the night of the planned escape; his arrest after the Mir escape; his escape; entering a convent; the nuns hiding him; reading their religious materials; developing a belief in Christ; the nuns baptizing him; learning to knit so he could contribute to the convent; leaving after fourteen months in order not to endanger the nuns; joining partisans in Rubi︠a︡z︠h︡ėvichy after Jews he knew vouched for him; contacts with the Bielski brigade; liberation by Soviet troops in Ivi︠a︡nets in August 1944; briefly working for NKVD in Baranavichy; the nuns in Mir providing a reference for him to enter a monastery; traveling to Vilnius, then Naujoji Vilnia; training as a priest in a Carmelite monastery in Kraków; and emigration to Israel in 1959.

R., Oswald, 1922-1998.
Ramat Aviv, Israel : Beth Hatefutsoth, Nahum Goldman Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, 1987
Interview Date
January 29, March 26, and May 26, 1987.
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Oswald R. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-1834). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
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Record last modified: 2015-06-22 12:48:00
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